There’s No Substitute for Stabilizer

I’ve seen the question so many times I just mostly make a resigned sad face when I see it now,  but it still bothers me.   The question usually starts with the words “Can I..” and then goes on to ask whether it’s acceptable to use freezer paper or printer paper or plastic grocery bags as stabilizer for embroidery.  I get the idea behind the inquiry – stabilizer can be expensive,  or at least more expensive than a roll of freezer paper.  Things like printer paper or plastic grocery bags are also usually at hand and don’t need to be purchased specially.  I also suppose,  to some people,  using a common household item might be less intimidating.  There are understandable reasons why people might pursue the option of using something other than the item specifically designed for the purpose,  but there are also several reasons why that’s not usually a good idea.

Before I go into the reasons why we think using things like freezer paper is not the ideal option,  I do want to address the one exception,  using freezer paper for applique.   When cutting patterns for applique,  freezer paper is an option for stabilizing the fabric while you cut out the shapes.   It’s also a viable option for fusing to the back of a fabric you are intending to draw or paint on,  as raw fabric tends to wrinkle.  Keep in mind,  both these activities are embroidery adjacent,  not actually embroidery,  so I still stand by that statement that freezer paper is not generally a great option when it comes to stabilizing embroidery.  Now let’s discuss the reasons why we think this is so.

Reason 1:  Many stabilizers are designed specifically for machine embroidery – I’m sure there are stabilizers out there that started life as pocket lining or something,  but there are also several classes of stabilizers that are intended specifically to be used with machine embroidery.   This category includes poly meshfusible,  and adhesive backing.  Something that is designed specifically for the requirements of the job at hand will most likely work better than something used randomly.

Reason 2:  An embroidery stabilizer can help improve the look of embroidery – Stabilizers are sometimes designed with a specific weight or type of fabric in mind.  The proper marriage of backing or topping,  fabric,  thread and digitized design will create the most professional look and the best outcome.  Using a stabilizer designed for the fabric you want to embroider and the type of look you want to create will give you a much better chance of a successful finished product.

Reason 3:  An embroidery stabilizer can speed up production –  Designs tend to sew out better when they’re stabilized properly.  There’s less puckering,  fewer thread breaks and definitely a cleaner and more professional looking finished product.  Removing stabilizer more quickly with a tearaway option or presenting a tidier and more professional finished look with a washaway option are also benefits to using a stabilizer designed for embroidery.

Reason 4: The right tool for the right job – Freezer paper is designed to protect food from freezer burn.   Plastic grocery bags are designed for carrying your produce and pasta home from the store.   Embroidery stabilizer is designed to lend stability to embroidered designs,  to improve stitch-outs and to help provide a professional finished appearance.  Using products as they were designed will generally bring about the most successful outcome.

In a nutshell,  those are the reasons we think embroidery should be stabilized with machine embroidery backings and toppings,  but we’d love to get your take on this topic.   Have you ever stabilized your embroidery with something other than standard stabilizer?   What was the result?  We’d love to know what you think.

Marketing Monday: 4 Lessons From a Month of Blog Posts

Back at the beginning of July,  I issued a challenge to myself.  I wanted to see if regular updates on our blogs,  Threaducate and SubliStuff,  made a difference in our readership.   So I decided to write a blog post for one or the other of the blogs each of the five days of our work week,  for the entire month of July.  The goal was to see if this made a difference in the attention people paid to the blogs,  in the readership of older posts,  and simply to see if I could fit daily blogging into a schedule that always seemed to be packed with things to do.   I won’t lie,  the goal I’d set for myself was challenging,  but I learned a lot as I worked to meet it.   Here are some of the most important things I learned.

Ideas come from everywhere – One of my main worries was coming up with ideas for a new post every day.   Some days,  that was tough.  Gradually,  though,  I learned that a post idea can come from anywhere – someone I follow on social media,  a discussion with a co-worker,  looking back through older posts,  something I read,  something I watched,  something a competitor said.  Anything could be fodder for a post,  I just had to figure out how to frame it to make it applicable to the subjects of our blogs.

I had time,  if I made time – Anyone who has any part in managing or running a company knows that there are always more things to do than there are hours in which to do them.    The things that get done most often are the things you consider priorities.  Prior to the month of blog posts,  blogging had slipped on the priority list,  since there were always other demands on my time.  In July,  I made blogging a priority and rearranged some other things on my schedule to make it happen.  Sometimes that meant I wrote a paragraph a day until I got a post done.  Sometimes it meant I wrote several posts when I had a spare few hours.  I won’t say it was always easy,  because it wasn’t,  but the time was there,  if I made blogging a priority.

There are no old subjects,  only old posts – I’ve been writing about machine embroidery since 2007,  and about sublimation since 2010.  That’s a lot of informative posts with helpful tips and thoughts that are now several years old.  Looking back through the blogs allowed me to reprise subjects that were still relevant,  but had last been touched on in a post several years ago.   It’s a good reminder that old content can often be repurposed and reintroduced to an audience that may not have seen it before.

Not every post will be a home run, and that’s o.k. – A lot of us,  I think,  get focused on making things perfect,  and so we tinker and tweak and do everything but actually put the content out there and let people see it.  We got so focused on what we don’t like about something,  we forget to notice all the stuff that’s really good.  Yes,  I have certain standards for my work.   Yes,  I always want it to be the best it can be.  Yes,  sometimes my best isn’t as good as I’d like it to be and yes,  that’s o.k.   Sometimes the important thing is putting your work out there,  despite what you see as glaring mistakes, or clear imperfections.  The likelihood is that what you see as huge, blaring problems most people won’t even notice,  and that they’ll still benefit from interacting with your work.

In the end, my blogging experiment did seem to have an impact.  We had increased readership,  both of current posts and old posts.   We had new subscribers to the blogs.  Writing every day reminded me that writing is what I do, and I needed to do it more often.   While I don’t expect to,  or really want to continue writing a post a day,  I will be blogging more frequently.  I hope you’ll be reading when I do.

Marketing Monday: Gaining Attention on Social Media

Attention.   We like it most of the time.  Standing in front of a cheering crowd,  spending time with a significant other,  having someone comment on something you created,  all those things feel nice and usually make us happy.   The times we don’t like attention are the times when we feel like we’ve done something stupid.  Tripping over nothing and falling on our faces.  Tweeting at 2 a.m. after a few too many drinks and saying something you would never say at noon when you were alert and sober.

When you run a business,  attention is key,  if people don’t know who you are and what you have to offer,  they won’t be inspired to pay you money,  which means your business may not be in business for long.   The question is,  how do you gain that attention,  in a positive way,  and how do you keep people’s eyes on your feeds once they know you exist?  We have some thoughts.

First,  as always,  you need to know who it is you want attention from, and where those people are online.   Essentially,  you need to find your audience,  both in terms of the actual people you hope to make connections with,  and the places on the Internet those sorts of people go.   Keep in mind that no business has a customer base of everyone,  even though some might seem like they do.  Narrowing your focus and really understanding your customer base will help you be in the right place at the right time talking to the right people.

Second, once you know to who and where you’ll be talking,  you need to figure out what you’ll be talking about.   Create a content plan,  which doesn’t have to be detailed,  but does have to contain the highlights of the message you want to get across.   Sometimes this plan will be as simple as a bunch of bullet points,  other times it can go for pages and have detailed strategy notes.  The main thing is that you have some sort of list of topics to cover.

Third,  let customers behind the curtain so they can get to know a little bit about you.   Numerous studies show that people are more likely to buy from business they trust.   Giving your potential customers glimpses into the daily life of the business,  and sharing funny or sweet things that happen allows them to get a better picture of who you, and by extension your business,  are.

Finally,  and most important,  create good content.  If your feed is a litany of “buy my stuff, buy my stuff”,  people will get bored and turn their attention elsewhere.  Part of developing a content plan is figuring out what your ideal customers will want to hear and see from the businesses where they spend money.   Make sure your content is interesting,  both visually and in what it says.  Share content that helps your potential customers understand your products and how they can use them to make their lives better.  Offer meaningful and useful information,  not just memes or sales messages.

The main thing to remember is this:  if you consistently,  day in and day out, even when it seems like no one is listening,  create content that is worthy of attention,  you will be noticed.  The only way to gain the kind of attention you want and to hold that attention is be there day after day,  providing useful and interesting information and insight.

Trendy Thursday – 5 Fashion Trends We Really Wish Would Disappear

Fashion,  a few people don’t care about it at all,  some people are absolute slaves to it,  and most are probably somewhere in the middle.   They want to be fashionable,  but aren’t dedicating huge portions of their lives to this quest.  Fashion is fun,  but it can also be a problem for decorators,  particularly when they’re asked to decorate something that’s trendy,  but not easy to embellish.  I’m sure you all have your own lists of fashion trends you’d be happy to never see again,  but today I thought it would be fun to share ours.

Trend 1:  Performance Wear – Yes,  you’re an athlete.  Yes,  you’ve worked hard to get your body in shape and this type of clothing shows that off.   Yes,  performance wear can have moisture wicking capabilities and other traits that make it great for wearing when you’re exerting yourself.  What performance wear doesn’t have is the qualities that make it easy to decorate.  It’s stretchy and hard to hoop which makes embroidery difficult.   It’s thin and often made of polyester or a poly blend,  which can make it unsuitable for screen printing and and decoration techniques involving heat.  Performance wear is pretty much a combo platter of decoration difficulty.

Trend 2: Excessively Distressed Denim – We’ve probably all seen the photos of the pair of jeans for sale that were primarily seams and nothing else,  which is an extreme case.  Still, excessively distressed denim pretty much showcases what decoration was designed to cover up,  which is holes in the garment.   Holes worn into a pair of jeans through wear and time is one thing.   Holes that are pre-made before the garment is even bought or worn is quite another.

Trend 3:  Rompers – Guys may not even know what these are,  since the last time they probably wore one was when they were infants.  Women,  however,  may be quite familiar with the romper,  which is basically a jumpsuit where the legs stop at shorts level.   They’re most likely not that hard to decorate,  honestly,  they’re just not really a good look for any grown-up person to wear,  and that’s why they made the list.  (Note:  Apparently there are rompers for men – which is just wrong on so many levels.  This trend definitely needs to die!)

Trend 4:  Logos On Everything – Yes, putting logos on shirts or jackets or bags can be the life blood of a decoration business,  and having one logo on something isn’t committing a fashion faux pas.   It’s when there are multiple logos everywhere, on every piece of clothing or accessory,  that it becomes too much.  Mixing logos isn’t the greatest fashion homerun either.   Logos are like spices,  a little adds some interest.  Too much,  and you’re turning red and reaching desperately for something to cleanse your palate.

Trend 5:  Cold Shoulder Tops – Another trend that guys may not be as familiar with but something that seems to be showing up everywhere from formalwear to t-shirts.   Basically,  a cold shoulder top is one that has cutouts that leave the shoulder bare.   This style interferes with monogram or logo placement and just isn’t really a look that works for most people.

So,  those are the fashion trends we’d like to see ended,  but I’m sure there are many that we left off the list.  What’s your biggest fashion pet peeve as a decorator?  Leave a comment and let us know what fashion trend you really dislike.

Why Having a Consistent Thread Matters

I’d guess everyone who works with thread in any fashion has their likes and dislikes when it comes to thread brands.   When you’re just starting out,  it’s hard to know which brand will serve you well and meet your needs the best. Some people buy thread based on what came with their machine.  Other embroiderers work more with colors they need to match rather than thread brands they like.  Certainly there are those who buy based on price, and the cheaper price always seems to win.  One thing that isn’t often considered,  but should be,  is how consistent the thread is.

A consistent thread is one that retains the same properties over time.  The hues of the dyes used to color the thread don’t change.  The tensile strength of the thread remains constant.  The cost of the thread stays reasonably steady.  The quality of the thread doesn’t vary from lot to lot.   What you got when you used the thread for the first time should,  if the thread is consistent,  be the same as what you get when you use the thread for the thirty-first time.  Being consistent is important for thread for several reasons.

Reason 1: Colors don’t change –  Anyone who’s matched a color for a customer knows the importance of color consistency.  Once you find the perfect color to match their logo or graphic,  you need that color to match every time you do an order.  Customers,  as we all know,  can be very picky about color matching.  The last thing you need is a thread color that changes a bit with every dye lot.  A consistent thread will maintain color integrity across dye lots.  The dye recipe will be precise and will be precisely followed.

Reason 2: Strength and durability – An inconsistent thread will have weak spots,  areas where the fibers are uneven or aren’t as thick.  It won’t hold tension as well and may be more prone to thread breaks.   A consistent thread, on the other hand,  will be even, without weak spots.   It will sew smoothly and thread breaks will be limited, and more likely due to design issues than the quality of the thread.  Consistent thread also generally causes far fewer thread breaks,  which results in much less downtime for production.

Reason 3:  Price – Consistent thread is unlikely to be the least expensive thread on the block,  but the quality will be worth paying a slightly higher price.  It’s also unlikely that the prices for a consistent thread will fluctuate much,  since the manufacturer will have sourced quality supplies and ensured their supply chain is secure.  While the price may be adjusted to reflect inflation or changes in the economy,  overall the price should stay pretty steady.

Reason 4:  Sew-out –  A consistent thread will sew out the same every time you sew a design.   It won’t sew perfectly one time and become a knotted mess the next. A thread you can rely on is one that can be predicted,  one that you know will create embroidery that will satisfy your customers.   If you constantly have to adjust tensions or mess with the machine to get the same results as a prior sew-out,  you’re losing time and certainly adding to your stress level.

In the end,  a consistent thread is one that performs the job for you best over the long term.   Yes,  a thread that stays consistent probably won’t be the cheapest option,  but a higher price will be more than justified by the faster production,  stable color and pain free sew-outs.

Featured Friday – Information, Inspiration, Instruction

Since it is Friday,  it seemed like it would be fun to do another Featured Friday post.   One thing I do want to mention,  before I spotlight other people’s work,  is the fact that we’ve been posting a blog post a day, every day during the work week,  here at Threaducate or at our sister blog, SubliStuff. We’ve worked to create a lot of great content,  and it’s definitely worth your time to go read.

That said,  on to what I think are the posts you should be reading this week.

First up,  although they’re on the Threaducate blog,  these posts,  Finding the Right Machine for You, Part 1 and Part 2 were written by Katie Wubben of Trouble Me Knot Embroidery.  Katie runs a screen print shop,  an embroidery shop,  lectures at the DAX Shows and sells Melco embroidery machines.  She knows her stuff and these posts show that.  She’s definitely a great guide if you’re looking to purchase a machine.

Second in the batting order is a post from Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine,  about how to use metallic embroidery thread.  I’m honestly not sure I agree with all their tips, and some I’ve never heard before (put thread in the freezer before embroidering) but I think there’s enough here that could be useful to include it in this round-up.   Also,  keep in mind that the quality of the metallic thread can matter greatly.   The Iris Metallic Thread that EnMart carries has been known to turn metallic thread haters into people who sew with metallic thread regularly.  It’s just that good!

Third in the rotation is a post from Marshall Atkinson of Atkinson Consulting called “Accountability is Binary“.  Honestly,  I’d love this post just for the name,  but what it says is marvelous too.  The post basically leads you through setting up procedures for your shop and how to get the best out of any department.  As the title implies,  there is a correct way and a wrong way to do things.  This post tells you how to set up procedures that will help your people do the correct thing.

Fourth at bat is a post I think I might have shared in a previous round-up,  but it’s such a useful post I want to share it again.   This post from Erich Campbell deals with embroidery on substrates that have a texture,  towels,  fleece, that sort of thing.  There is an art to doing embroidery on these types of substrates well,  and Erich’s tips will help you master that art.  If you want to go for the graduate course in taming textures,  you can also read Part 2 of this series.

Finally,  a post about ways,  9 ways specifically,  to promote your website.  Since almost every company has a website these days,  this is useful information.  Not sure I agree with all of their tips,  but they not only provide the tip,  they provide action items to help you implement the tip.   Definitely a good read for those who are looking to bring more visitors to their website.

Finding the Right Machine for You – Part 2

Note:  From time to time we like to feature guest posts from people who really know their stuff.   This post is written by Katie Wubben from Trouble Me Knot Embroidery.  Many of you may know Katie from her fabulous seminars at the DAX Shows.  Katie also sells Melco embroidery machines,  and offers training on those machines, so she knows her stuff.  You should definitely contact her if you are looking to purchase an embroidery machine. 

Part 2 of this series deals with the features a machine may offer, and how to decide what you need. 

Every embroidery machine will stitch.  There are many factors that you need to analyze to determine which capabilities you require and which ones you can let go of in light of budget.   Ask what the top running speed of the machine is, then follow that by asking what speed you can expect to fun on average and on caps.  Just because a machine is capable of 1,000 stitches per minute does not mean you can get away with that speed all the time.   If the sales person does not give a variation of speed for certain items (or at least mention one item that requires a lower production speed) they likely are not being realistic.

Next,  you need to identify what the sew area is on the machine and what hoop styles can be used with it.   I personally feel magnetic hoops are the cream of the crop and are a must in any shop stitching on blankets,  jackets or other thick items.  They are also faster and easier to use than traditional hoops you need to set tension on.   Think about what type of fabrics and items you’ll be stitching.  A quilt show will want a larger sew area than a production business hoping to run thousands of left chest polos.   If ever you want to stitch on a jacket or blanket,  you’ll want a fairly large sew area to do so with ease.

How many thread colors can the machine hold at one time?  It doesn’t seem like you’d need many,  but does any mind having more than they need?  To help determine what you will need, take a look at some of the designs you hope to stitch for the market you’ll be serving.  Nature and wildlife designs have an incredible amount of colors to achieve shading.  By identifying your market and looking at designs,  you can easily get an idea of how many colors are involved.

Also keep in mind that just because a machine doesn’t have enough spaces doesn’t mean you can’t sew the design.  You can take the time to rethread during a design; but then you’re simply selling out your sanity unless you have far more time than I do.  If you plan to only stitch left chest logos all day long in the corporate world,  maybe you don’t need a machine with as many needles as the lab at the local hospital.  The ease with which you can change these colors out is an important thing to consider as well.  Some machines require a space behind them to get to while others have you climbing on a ladder to reach them.  Look at the thread path as well.  If the threads are not protected,  they may be more likely to become tangled and cause thread breaks.

Know how the design will be communicated with the machine.  Some machines require you to save the finished file on a flash drive and physically put that in the machine while others will communicate with  a free standing computer connected by a cable.  Keep in mind, every time you need to make a size adjustment or anything of that nature you will likely need to go back to your design software and then save it again to transfer it back to the machine.  Some machines have a stitch count limit per design as their memory cannot handle very high stitch counts.  To work around this,  you would save part of the design as one file and another part as the other.   This would take additional time and that comes additional stress as well.

Another question to ask is if the machine has a computer attached to it or if it will be connected by a cable.   There are pros and cons either way.  Having a computer on a machine comes with the risk of something going wrong with the screen or the hardware in the computer and a technician being required to fix it.  That comes with cost and down time.  Knowing what type of computer requirements are needed from a computer will help you make a good purchase so that the machine runs without glitches.  You will likely need a free standing computer either way to run your design software.

Keep in mind that knowing what type of software comes with the purchase is another critical factor.  Decide what you need, then make sure your purchase includes those things.  Even if you don’t want to do all of your own digitizing,  you may want to be capable of altering the density,  pull compensation and underlay values to stitch the same design very well on multiple garments.  Also understand that auto digitizing features may be o.k. in some cases,  but manual digitizing will, almost always,  yield better, more professional results.

Last, but not least,  make sure you understand the special features and capabilities each machine has to offer.  The ability to trace the design is helpful for placement.  Being able to adjust a pressure foot may yield better results on various fabric thicknesses.  A rounded needle plate will stitch on caps easier than a flat needle plate.   I love being able to advance my design to any point within the design,  which is a feature I would not have received with a used machine,  as it was only added recently.

In the end,  the important thing is to identify your situation.   What type of products do you plan to stitch?  What type of order quantities can you expect?   What type of designs will you use?   How much time to have to invest in learning the machine?  Once you’ve answered those questions,  the goal is a decision that leaves you pleased with the outcome rather than filled with regret.

Finding the Right Machine for You – Part 1

Note:  From time to time we like to feature guest posts from people who really know their stuff.   This post is written by Katie Wubben from Trouble Me Knot Embroidery.  Many of you may know Katie from her fabulous seminars at the DAX Shows.  Katie also sells Melco embroidery machines,  and offers training on those machines, so she knows her stuff. You should definitely contact her if you are looking to purchase an embroidery machine. 

Part 1 of this series deals with the intangibles,  price, training etc,  that need to be considered when buying a machine. 

It’s a challenging concept to navigate when deciding, when, what and how you will start or add embroidery to your business.  Let me share some tips and tricks to make sure you get the right machine to fit your needs, style, budget and business.

Money Talks…

We all want to shop by price.   But that’s is not the first place to start the process.  The old saying “you get what you pay for” comes with some truth in most cases.  If you don’t get what you need and have limitations that don’t fit your business,  you’ll find yourself quickly wanting to upgrade.  This would require adding a machine or going through the process of selling the first one to get a second.  Then you have the learning curve of both machines rather than one straight from the gate.

Training…

Whether you’ve been in the embroidery business for decades or are just entering,  knowing if and what training is included with the purchase of your machine is critical.  Will you be on your own to figure things out,  or will you have to travel somewhere to get the training you need not only to run the machines smoothly,  but also to maintain the machine?  Some brands come with on-site training where the trainer comes to you and sets up your machines and trains you on your turf.  Will you need to hire a technician annually to go through the machine or will you have the tools and resources to self-maintain the machine? Beyond the machine, will you learn hooping techniques along with when to use what supplies?

Tech Support/Technicians…

Things will go wrong with any brand of machine.  It’s a mechanical device that has lots of moving parts with a human in control.   Things will happen.  When they do,  having someone that you can understand walk you through the diagnosis along with fixing it is an amazing service!  Be sure you now if tech support will come at an additional cost along with where the tech support is based.  I personally enjoy USA based tech support.   Knowing where technicians are located and what the cost to you will be should need to hire one is a critical piece of knowledge.  Maintaining your embroidery machine is just as important as changing the oil on your vehicle.   I like being able to do this myself,  but some would rather hire it done no matter the cost.   Just think about your situation and make a decision you’re comfortable with.

New vs. Used Machine..

Buying a used machine has advantages,  but be aware of what to look for and consider before making a purchase.   Ask what the stitch count is on the machine and how often it has been maintained.   I personally the best time to buy a used machine is when you have one you’re happy with and you need to add a second.  This allows you to have the background and training to run it well to know it should sound and look like.   This can be handy to avoid taking on a machine that you would otherwise not recognize the issues with.  You also will likely not receive training or tech support with a used machine not to mention the latest and greatest software on the market.   When that’s the case,  one can usually purchase these services at an additional cost.   Sometimes a seller will promise training with a used machine.  In that situation,  I recommend making a partial payment up front, and then pay the machine off once the training has been fulfilled.  Be sure to compare the price of the used machine to the new one you would purchase along with its capabilities.

On Wednesday,  in Part 2 of this series,  we’ll talk about the features an embroidery machine offers and how to decide what you need.

Understanding Sales Tax

Sales tax,  particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. can be a very confusing subject.   While it may be some time before that decision has an impact, understanding its potential effects could be useful for almost any business owner.  Until the full implications of the new ruling become apparent, a simple understanding of why sales tax is required and how it works can also be very helpful.

What is sales tax?

Sales tax is a retail point of purchase tax imposed by many states and cities and paid by a purchaser when a sale is made.  Some states and cities do not have a sales tax.  Most do.   Business owners,  by law,  are required to collect the sales tax and remit it to the proper organizations within the states and cities in which they are required to collect the tax.

How do you know if you’re required to collect sales tax in a particular state?

Currently, businesses are required to collect sales tax on all orders coming from states where they have a physical presence,  an office,  a factory etc.  For EnMart, for instance, that means we are currently required to charge sales tax in Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, California, Illinois and New Jersey.  With the advent of South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. this requirement may change or expand.

What do you do with the tax once it’s collected?

Those requirements will vary by state.   Some states require submission of sales tax payments every month.   Others may require a quarterly submission.   Check with your state and local tax collection authorities to find the schedules and forms for the states in which you have to pay tax.

Is there any way to be made exempt from paying sales tax?

The methods of sales tax exemption will vary by state. Many states offer the option of a sales tax exemption form or certificate which must be completed by the purchaser and submitted to each company from which they purchase.  Companies must have the completed form for each customer who is not being charged sales tax on file in order for the exemption to be legal. Links to the sales tax exemption forms for the six states in which EnMart charges sales tax are on our Policies page.

What if I send resale certificate or other tax paperwork? 

In order to make a purchaser exempt,  the seller must have the completed sales tax exemption form designated by the collecting state on file.  In the event of an audit,  those specific forms would need to be produced,  so no other forms will do.

So,  once the completed form is on file,  I’m exempt?

Most e-commerce software programs now have an option to set customer account status to exempt them from sales tax.   So,  in general, yes,  once the completed form is on file,  your account should then be set to exempt status and no sales tax will be charged.

Time Travel Tuesday: How a Business Starts

Once upon a time,  there was a business called EnMart.   Actually,  it originally wasn’t called EnMart,  and went through a series of names before we settled on that one.  Those who have named businesses or products or children or pets know that naming things can be difficult.  Eventually,  EnMart was christened EnMart and we were on our way to what we thought was a future selling embroidery supplies.   Now,  11 years after we started,  EnMart sells embroidery supplies and sublimation supplies and quilting thread and crafting items.   Where we thought we’d be when we started is not really at all where we’ve ended up.

The odds against a business starting up and succeeding can seem daunting.  20% of small business fail in their first year.   50% will fail in five years.  Flip those stats on their head though,  and they don’t seem quite so awful.   If 20% of businesses fail in their first year,  than 80% succeed, and don’t the odds suddenly look better.   Same for the five year stat,  half of the businesses that started five years earlier are gone,  but half are still in business.   Given how optimistic you have to be to even start a business,  isn’t it likely most business owners would choose to believe they’ll be in the half that’s still around in five years?

When EnMart started,  we had no idea if the business would survive.   We had tenuous connections to the embroidery industry,  and hoped that would be enough to let us get our foot in the door.   We worked at building connections,  getting the company name out there,  creating opportunities where we could interact with the community.   As time went on,  we added sublimation,  then quilting thread,  and then craft supplies.  Each addition meant a new market to which we needed to be introduced, and a new set of rules and customers to learn.  We evolved in an effort to stay current and to take advantage of the possibilities that lay before us.

You may wonder why I’m telling you all this,  and the reason is pretty simple,  often in the hustle and bustle of building a business we forget to stop and look at where we started and acknowledge how far we’ve come.   When you started your business,  however that was done,  you probably had a dream for what it would become.   Today,  after however many years in business,  does what you see before you look anything like what you dreamed?

Starting a business is a risk,  and there will always be people who will quote you the statistics of how many businesses will fail in their first year,  or second year,  or any year at all.   The idea that seems like a surefire win may result in a business that never gets off the ground.   The idea that seems so simple you’re sure everyone has already done it might just be so simple that everyone overlooked it,  until you.   Whether your business is thriving or barely surviving,  you took a chance, and gave it a shot.   That’s worth some congratulations and a moment of contemplation.

So,  from us to you,  congratulations on taking a leap many are too scared to make.  Spend at least a moment today thinking about where you began and celebrating that fact that you’ve come as far as you have.   Always know that we’re here to help you in any way we can.   If you add our parent company into the mix,  we’ve been in the 50% that survived for 44 years now,  and we’ve got some stories and wisdom to share, so stay tuned.